The famous photograph of an immigrant family on the deck of a ship looking at the Statue of Liberty decorates the cover of Ellis Island: An Interactive History Adventure. That one iconic image of the anonymous and hopeful immigrants symbolizes the big picture of the mass European immigration. Within are the diverse experiences of three different young immigrants who passed through the Ellis Island immigrant processing center, which is now a museum of the immigration experience. In each section readers can decide, Encylopedia Brown-style, what choices the immigrants should make at various crossroads and then see the consequences of each decision.
The chapter “Trip to America” speaks directly to the reader and gets straight to the point.
You ask your mother why Jews are forced to live in this region and can’t travel freely in Russia.
“Because the Russians hate us,” she replies. “They think we take business away from them. They think Jews are evil. That’s why your father left for America. Soon we will too.”
The Russian Jewish girl is forced to make dif- ficult and grown up decisions at every turn as family members are injured, become seasick and are faced with new regulations that may restrict their entry to the United States.
Black and white historical photographs graphically depict what life was actually like back in those days here and in the old country. A chapter on Ellis Island today and back matter including a timeline of immigration history provide rich resources in this pithy and descriptive book.
Dina Weinstein is a Richmond, Virginia-based writer.